A silky smooth, rich-tasting creamy vegan carrot soup with coconut milk, topped with a zesty flavorful parsley pistou. You'll LOVE this healthy comforting bowl of soup. Serve it in a bowl for lunch or dinner, or in elegant ramekins or martini glasses as a gorgeous appetizer for a dinner party.
This Creamy Vegan Carrot Soup with Parsley Pistou is inspired by a carrot soup that was served at a blogging conference I attended. EVERYONE was asking for the recipe because it was SO DANG DELICIOUS.
A few of the conference attendees actually hunted down the chef through the concierge and got the recipe. It turns out the soup recipe contained a ton of butter and heavy cream. No surprise there, since it tasted so rich and creamy.
I absolutely had to lighten up this carrot soup so we can enjoy it as part of a healthy meal instead of it being a "once in a rare while" treat. So I made the soup lighter, healthier, vegan, but still really rich-tasting and creamy thanks to a couple of simple ingredients and tools.
If you're looking for a healthy, flavorful, satisfying soup that gets you a whole serving (or more!) of veggies, then try this recipe. You'll love it.
And if you're wondering "WHAT IS PISTOU, DID SHE MISSPELL PESTO??" then keep reading. 😉
Related recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato with Parsley Salsa Verde
Creamy Vegan Carrot Soup
The not-so-secret ingredients to a creamy but vegan soup are coconut milk and cashews. You'll also need a good blender to really make a smooth and rich soup.
- Coconut milk adds richness, depth of flavor, and a thicker consistency than plan vegetable broth, and is a great substitute for heavy cream in soups. Make sure you get the non-sweetened kind (such as this one). Don't get the kind that is meant for piña coladas, that is a whooole other recipe 😉
- Raw cashews are also a classic ingredient for making creamy, faux-cheese sauces. Soak raw cashews (such as these) in water while the soup cooks, then blend them into the soup
- An industrial strength blender, such as a Vitamix or a Blendtec really helps make this soup silky smooth, rich and creamy. You don't want any lumps from the cashews remaining in the soup, do you? The blender also helps makes a super smooth pistou (more on that later!). This is the one I have, I am obsessed with it even years later
Ingredient notes and tips:
- Ginger. I used ginger to give the soup more flavor. It's such a healthy ingredient, so why not add it whenever it doesn't clash with the flavors?? The easiest way to mince/grate ginger is with a microplane zester, such as this one
- Onion. I used a yellow onion to give the soup flavor. You can use shallots instead if you prefer milder onions, but since the onion is sauteed and then boiled, it becomes kind of mild anyway
- No garlic?? I skipped the garlic. *shocked face* I usually put garlic in EVERYTHING, but I decided to give it a break. You can absolutely add garlic to this recipe. Just mince it or grate it and add it in with the onion and ginger to saute
- Vegetable broth. Vegetable broth or stock always gives soups more flavor. If you don't want to open a quart of vegetable broth to only use 2 cups, then use 1 14-oz can of vegetable broth, or just use water instead. The soup will still taste good, I promise
- Other ingredient ideas:
- a few pinches of ground cumin or smoked paprika for smokiness. Add these with the carrots and coconut milk step
- a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. Add this at the very end before blending, so the heat doesn't destroy all the antioxidant benefits of turmeric
- spice! Add red pepper flakes or a few slices of fresh jalapeno to the soup at anytime during the cooking process
- swap out some of the carrots for parsnips, a beet, or a turnip (don't do more than one turnip, they have a bit of a bitter flavor)
- use roasted carrots and reduce the cooking time (more on this in the recipe card!)
How to make creamy carrot soup
I usually make this soup the traditional way: on the stovetop in a ~4 quart soup pot, and then blended in a large blender. You can also use an immersion blender, but the soup won't come out as silky smooth. It really depends on your texture preferences. I am cooking for my super picky toddler who likes vegetable soups to be pureed super smooth.
Want to use the Instant Pot? I have instructions for you in the recipe card!
Want to make this with roasted carrots? I gotcha. Instructions for that are included too (though this is a bit more involved and requires a few extra steps!)
How to serve this carrot soup
Serve it hot with a generous drizzle of pistou. Serve it with some toasted garlicky pita wedges (recipe here: garlicky pita wedges) or with some whole wheat garlic bread made with oil instead of butter for a healthier vegan twist (recipe here: whole wheat garlic bread with oil).
Serve the soup in a bowl or in fancy ramekins or martini glasses for a gorgeous appetizer.
What is pistou?
What in the world is pistou, you ask? It's like a French pesto (so no, I didn't just misspell pesto!), but without the pine nuts. It's a green sauce typically made from basil, olive oil , garlic, sometimes with Romano, Pecorino, or Parmesan cheeses.
Pistou sauce is uncooked. In fact the word "pistou" is related to the word "pestle" - as in mortar & pestle - because the sauce is traditionally made by grinding all the herbs and solid together with a pestle and adding olive oil.
Parsley Pistou Recipe
For this carrot soup I made a vegan parsley pistou. All this means is that I skipped the cheese and I used parsley instead of basil. I also skipped the garlic because I wanted a more delicate flavor that didn't overpower the creamy delicate flavor of the carrot soup.
If you're the kind of person who doubles (triples?) the amount of garlic in every recipe, feel free to add a small piece of garlic to the pistou.
I used my Blendtec blender to make a super smooth pistou sauce, and because of this I was able to use most of the pesto herb, including the stems. If you don't feel like using a blender, then use just the pesto leaves (discard the larger parts of the stems) and dice them super fine, or grind them with a mortar and pestle into a paste.
It's up to you whether you want a smooth pistou or one with more of a chimichurri-like texture. But whatever you do, I recommend NOT skipping the pistou part of the recipe. If you must skip the pistou, then add a tablespoon or two of lemon or lime juice to the soup before blending to give it a little bit of a citrusy zest.
By the way, if you love chimichurri, check out these other recipes that might be right up your alley:
- Shrimp and veggie skewers with chimichurri marinade and sauce
- Roasted cauliflower with parsley pesto
How to use leftover Pistou
If you have leftover pistou, use it as a sauce over:
- roasted vegetables
- roasted potatoes
- baked potatoes
- pretty much anything that could benefit from the flavors of fresh herbs, salt, and a little lemony acidity
Does this soup sound fantastic to you? Try these other vegan soups:
- Vegan sausage Zuppa Toscana
- Butternut Squash Lentil Soup with Garlicky Pita Wedges
- Sweet Potato Leek Soup
- Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
- Vegan Creamy Potato Turnip Soup
- Beet & Butternut Squash Soup
Or are you looking to use up your carrots?
- Spiralized zucchini carrot salad with feta (vegetarian!)
- Spiralized zucchini carrot salad with sesame ginger dressing (vegan!)
- Thyme roasted carrots
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Creamy Vegan Carrot Soup with Parsley Pistou
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup water - for soaking cashews
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil - or olive oil
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 1 inch ginger - peeled and minced/grated
- 1.5 lb carrots - peeled and roughly chopped into 1-2 inch pieces (about 6 medium/large carrots)
- 1 14-oz can lite coconut milk
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt - or more to taste
- Optional ingredients: garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, turmeric, fresh jalapeno, garlic, parsley - see notes
- 1 bunch parsley - to make 1 cup of tightly packed parsley, see notes about the stems
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt - or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice - or lime juice, from 1/2 lemon or lime
- Optional ingredient: small garlic clove
- Soup Pot
- Optional: Instant Pot or Baking Sheet, if you want to make this in the Instant Pot or with Roasted Carrots
- Soak the cashews in water while you prepare the soup.
- In a 4-5 quart soup pot with a heavy bottom, saute the diced onion and ginger in a tablespoon of coconut oil for about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the onion. If you wish, add red pepper flakes or diced fresh jalapeno for heat. Add powdered cumin or minced garlic, if you like.
- Add the diced carrots, canned coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Add salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to heat so the soup comes to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are fully cooked and easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove from heat and allow the soup to cool for 15-20 minutes. Puree it until desired smoothness using an immersion blender or a blender. Optional: Add diced parsley leaves or smoked paprika for extra flavor, or a pinch of turmeric for some antioxidants.
- While the soup is cooking and cooling, prepare the parsley pistou. Add all the ingredients to a small food processor or a large blender and puree until desired smoothness.
- To make this soup in the Instant Pot, saute the onion, ginger, and any other optional ingredients in oil using the saute function of the Instant Pot. Add the coconut oil and broth. Cover and lock the lid, set the valve to sealing, and cook on high pressure on manual mode for 3 minutes. Release the pressure naturally. Allow the soup to cool for 15-20 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender or a blender.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Chop the carrots into 2 inch pieces, and half or quarter them to make all the pieces about the same thickness. Cut the onions into rough 2-inch pieces. Toss the carrots and onion with olive oil and season with salt. Roast at 400F for 25-30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender when pierced with a fork, flipping halfway through.
- Add the carrots to a 4-5 quart soup pot along with the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Allow to cool, then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender.
- If you want to add some spice, add red pepper flakes or fresh diced jalapeno pepper to the onion and garlic when you saute
- If you want a garlicky flavor, add minced garlic to the sauteing step, or add a roughly chopped garlic clove to the pistou
- If you want to add a smoky flavor, add ground cumin to the saute step or smoked paprika right before pureeing the soup
- You can skip the cashews if you want a lighter soup with less calories. It will taste a bit less rich, but still be delicious
- I recommend using lite coconut milk instead of full fat coconut milk
- If skipping the pistou, add a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice to the soup before pureeing
The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.